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A Few Reasons to Oppose SB 136

February 14, 2011

Illinois Senate Bill 136 is Illinois State Senator Edward Maloney’s attempt to put the State thumb on homeschoolers. He wants all homeschoolers to register with the state Department of Education (or with the regional superintendent – there is some uncertainty there). Since he made the proposal, he has expressed confusion about why there are any objections. To clarify the issues, let me spell out a few reasons:

  1. The bill would hurt public schools – Maloney wants to have the Department of Education or the regional education departments be responsible for receiving and administering the yearly registration of parents of home schooled children. This means they would be responsible for the expenses – i.e. they have to pay to keep track, on a yearly basis, of a bunch of children in their region that don’t go to any of their schools. Keep in mind that Illinois currently has no money and is having problems paying for their school programs as it is, so they have no surplus money to use for expenses. They will have to take the money from current programs like arts, enrichment activities special education programs, early intervention or possibly even school lunch programs to fund the intrusion. I can’t imagine that taking money away from any of these programs will prove popular to the parents in those regions. Worse, marginal schools, which need these programs the most, are the ones that see the largest numbers of homeschoolers. In effect, this bill aims to drive a stake through the hearts of the schools that are teetering on the brink.
  2. This bill will have little effect – Homeschoolers already outperform their public school peers in every measure devised so far – they perform above grade level, have better ACT scores, are more likely to go to college, are more likely to finish college once they start, are better socialized (I’m not making this up – studies show this definitively), they are more likely to start their own businesses and even more likely to vote! Homeschooled children are subject to less abuse than public schooled peers and grow up to be more satisfied with life in general. So what is the department of education monitoring supposed to catch?
  3. The bill won’t do what the critics want – the most likely underlying reason for registration is to gain power to leverage homeschooled children back into the school system. However, a quick look at homeschool participation country-wide can dispel that notion. Regardless of the amount or lack of regulation of homeschoolers, parents still choose it as a viable alternative at a pretty uniform level. This is likely due to two things – the reasons for homeschooling, such as the desire to provide a better quality education than offered by public schools, the desire to instill morals and strengthen family bonds, are compelling ones and people who choose to homeschool tend to be a bit stubborn and less likely to “go with the flow” than those who choose to let public schools handle it all.
  4. The bill is morally offensive – think of the kind of Citizens that need to be registered by their own government. Who did you come up with? Sex offenders? Jews in Nazi Germany? parolees? Homeschoolers have been committed of no crimes, are proven to be positive contributors to society and aren’t even an imagined threat to anyone but teachers unions, so how do they even belong on this list?
  5. The bill is an unnecessary additional burden to our military – homeschooling is actually a popular choice for families of active duty personnel. It allows children to have some consistency through all the moves and deployments they have to endure and it removes the problem of having to deal with wildly varying standards of education between states. However, with this bill, a family having to deal with the stresses of military life and especially deployments will have an additional stumbling block to overcome in the midst of potentially chaotic times. Imagine a bureaucrat menacing your wife and children while you are overseas putting your life at risk in Afghanistan for their freedom, safety and way of life.

There are other reasons to let this bill die for example, it’s invasive, overly vague, opposes previous Illinois Supreme court rulings and could be counter productive by driving homeschoolers underground where they REALLY can’t be overseen. it really shouldn’t need to be stated – this kind of bill has already failed in the past for many of the same reasons listed above. Really it would be for the best simply to let this bill die. Hopefully this helps!

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